Unless you have been playing it your entire life teaching a beginner to play the clarinet can be a challenge. Lesson books can help, but the vast majority of lesson books used these days in a public school band setting are ensemble books that by nature have to progress in a certain way. In a new article over on the Vandoren reeds website clarinet pedagog Paula Corley she goes through a step by step progression of concepts that she uses with her beginners.
The article, titled The First Year Clarinet Curriculum, lays things out in order, starting with mouthpiece tone and tonguing and then progressing through what most would consider the normal progression of concepts. Where Corley differs however is that unlike most lesson books she tries to push the students down to Bb as soon as possible to help them develop their right hand position early on instead of waiting weeks and allowing the student to develop bad habits in the way the bottom joint is held. This idea of moving down to the right hand notes early is similar in some ways to the Habits of Musicianship series of books which never even touch the higher notes above C until the right hand position is well developed.
New Clarinet Teaching Tips For Old Clarinet Tricks
While the content found in Corley’s article is nothing earth shaking it is refreshing to hear tips and tricks phrased in new ways. No matter how many time you use a particular metaphor with a group of new clarinet students sooner or later you run into someone for whom the metaphor just doesn’t make sense. Having a few alternative explanations for how to make the embouchure or tongue properly always helps and Corley provides several examples of these kinds of things in her article.
What do you think? Is Corley on the right track with her clarinet curriculum suggestions? Do you have a better way of doing things? Leave a comment and let us know. If you need more help with starting beginner clarinets and Corley’s clarinet curriculum article doesn’t cover everything you were looking for you may want to also check out some of the other articles here on MusicEdMagic about topics listed below for more information.